All Stories, General Fiction

As If He Still Drives a Capri

In the lull between my husband’s condemnations, I reminded our daughters that each Sunday is a Christmas. This way of thinking is Karen’s idea. She does Fridays and Saturdays in the shop with me.

She said when sorting citrus, ‘When life serves you lemons–’ and I held up my hand and asked, ‘Is there a cliché for grapefruit?’

Karen couldn’t think of one.

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All Stories, Editor Picks, General Fiction, Short Fiction

347: Mental Scar Tissue, Curtain Calls and Scares A to Z

I recently recalled a cherished Halloween memory from my childhood: I was in the living room watching a Casper the Friendly Ghost Halloween special on TV the Saturday morning prior to the big day. My monumentally hung over grandfather just came out of the kitchen, a glass of what surely held only healthy tomato juice in his unsteady hand. A great question had formed in my mind.

“Grandpa, how did Casper die?”

“He asked the wrong people a lot of stupid questions.”

By now it must be obvious that I have seized upon Halloween as the inspiration for this post. Since the Nobel prize for literature has already been passed out, I see no reason to introduce revolutionary literary techniques or topics until the next voting cycle begins.

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All Stories, General Fiction

What If? by Yash Seyedbagheri  

My life is a sea of ifs.

What if I’d published this collection? if I’d studied harder? If I hadn’t shot off my mouth at home? What if I hadn’t eaten too many potato chips and drank too much Merlot?

On my thirtieth birthday, they all rise up like the ghosts of Christmas past, whispering. If, if, if, a hollowed-out word that sits next to me in the coffee shops, follows me on my nightly walks, snuggles too close to me.

I procure the biggest whiteboard possible. Eliminate ifs. Draw up concrete whens in lavender marker. No red markers bleeding with psychological pressure, thank you. I lay out goals and visions.

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All Stories, Editor Picks, General Fiction, Short Fiction

Week 341: Where Have All the Disposable Ensigns Gone and Results From the Great Cat Division of the Feline Olympics

Three or four years ago I gave up on network television for the sake of my safety. It doesn’t mean that I have departed from gazing glassy-eyed into a screen, but nowadays I feed the vacuum in my mind caused by a lifetime of watching TV with YouTube and NetFlix. The TV is still on, but in the other room, tuned to one of those retro-channels, to long since departed shows, which star dead actors who come back to life for twenty-three to forty-six minutes five days a week, in worlds where forever usually arrives no later than 1982.

The main reason for this involves the Discovery Channel and its spin-offs on basic cable. For years my general sense of fear and isolation was greatly enhanced by an endless succession of learned talking heads who glibly informed me what would happen to Earth if it wandered too close to a black hole or was bathed in a gamma ray burst or nailed by an asteroid the size of Cincinnati. And none of it was pretty. End of Days. Repent. I was more distrubed, however, by the smarmy attitude of the scientists who spoke of these possible calamities with twinkles in their eyes. Why were they so happy to suggest these things? Isn’t everyday living hard enough already? Are these people sociopaths? And how come they all wear khaki pants and blue shirts? Even Victor Frankenstien owned a tie.

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All Stories, Short Fiction

339- Secret Rooms, Incidental Blonde Bashing and Results From the Tiny Wildcat Division at the Feline Olympics

Hugh is on a well earned holiday this week. This leaves me alone in a room, thinking of what to do for Week 339 at 3:56 A.M. on a Thursday morning.

The cursor is blinking, and my mind is its usual unsteady and fearful self. Writing is like life, I go from here to there and make it up on the spot, then return to edit the mistakes later.

Yet there are always some things I miss and never fix. For instance, the fatuous simile in the previous paragraph.

Anyway…

When I was a child we lived in a house that had secret rooms. Actually, the secret rooms were crawl spaces above the eaves–one at each side of the attic, accessed through pull out shelves. Only persons the size of your standard six-year-old (or so) could move around comfortably in the crawl spaces; only persons of six (or so) have enough imagination to consider the places the Christmas decorations wind up secret rooms.

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Short Fiction

Week 334: Little Toughs, A Kvetch, Good Stories and an Extra Helping of Frederick K. Foote

Little Toughs

My football-shaped black cat, Dudley, has been assassinating my left ankle again. He is an irresistible little thug who takes “No” poorly. “No, Dud, I’d rather you not shred the new sofa.” “Um, no Dud, you may not go outside and fight with the crows.” He can hold a grudge longer than a Catholic funeral; and has the sort of personality that would drop a nuke to end a snowball fight.

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Short Fiction

Week 330: Fear and Recreational Violence

Fear

I’m afraid of heights, close places, and small talk with strangers. This makes me a crummy candidate for riding in planes. Which is fine because I’ve only been on one air trip in my life, and I will never do it again. I’ll go by car, rail or ship first. Hell, I’ll walk, if it comes to that. A friend once told me that air travel is statistically much safer than going by sea. She also reminded me that I cannot swim. I retorted that I may learn how to swim anytime I please, but that my prospects for self propelled controlled flight are limited.

Excellent questions usually attract poor answers. For instance “Why do some people joyously skydive and bungee jump, while others clutch the sides of their chairs until the blood has left their knuckles just contemplating those activities?” I usually reply to something like that with “You never hear about anyone leaving a crater after she falls off a barstool, right?” Yet, later on, when doomed to spending time with my own thoughts, I wonder why I am afraid of the devil may care aspect of life.

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All Stories, Fantasy

Everyday I Ro Ro Ro in Zee Hay by Leila Allison and Daisy the Pygmy Goat

A.M.I. (Adverb Mass Index): 45.74% (last reading, till it blew)

8 December

James Thrurber’s Birthday

I was at my desk avoiding my latest work of innovative genius by attempting to see the world the way James Thurber must have–with one eye shut and the other peering through a monocle devised from the punt of an unwashed pint. A childhood accident blinded Thurber in one eye; soon after sympathetic ophthalmia set in and slowly drained the light from the other. Yet before darkness fell for keeps, Thurber became almost as well known as a cartoonist as he was a writer.

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General Fiction, Short Fiction

Only a Jellyfish Would Live Forever by Leila Allison

The Scenario: Part I 

He crushed two pills between his teeth and swallowed. That made four in an hour. A stomach that wanted to stay alive would have objected; but for once there was consensus. He believed that two more similar doses within the next thirty minutes should punch his ticket to the Undiscovered Country. Perhaps such an important event as flirting with self destruction should come accompanied by an unfilched metaphor, but when in doubt go with Shakespeare–Besides he’d used up all the sparklers in his suicide note. It was a fine suicide note. Well written, streaked with effortless pathos and humor. It was the best thing he had ever written. “All show, no tell,” he’d said after lighting it on fire and watching it curl to black in the kitchen sink.  “Best punched ticket ever.”

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All Stories, General Fiction

God Bless You, Boots the Impaler by Leila Allison

In memory of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

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(No semicolons were abused during this production; in fact, the one to your immediate left is the only one employed by the author in this piece, and its necessity is a matter of debate.)

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(No one said anything about the omission of colons: *Try producing shit without one.)

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(*Use of the oldest scatalogical punctuation mark joke in the English language is protected by the false concept called “Free Speech.”)

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